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Author Topic: Mr Pembrook and the Curious Rendezvous (Week 3-2)  (Read 12585 times)

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Mr Pembrook and the Curious Rendezvous (Week 3-2)
« on: June 07, 2012, 05:53:57 PM »

(This is a solo-venture thread! R^2 is such a cool dude, he wants to try out two characters!)

Steiner Barnabas Melville Pembrook is a professional listener. A studied astronomer, a dabbling enchanter, a crossbow sniper, and amateur gastronome, but vocationally, he listens. And today's topic is the warding of the dead against nefarious uses. Miss Thelesia Crenwit(engaged) is lecturing with renewed fervor today, a tall and thin Tiefling woman with long and straight teal-violent hair and curled little horns poking out of her temples, wearing a sleek and angular black robe with half a human skull at the shoulder, though long-time students know that is a construct of metal as an arcane focus. They'd also have heard about the attack against Professor Crenwit last week, when she was knocked out cold and stuffed into a closet by some unknown shape-shifting as a Tiefling and stealing her identity for a brief period for... unknown but no-doubt fiendish ends! Miss Crenwit has been quite a bit jumpy since the incident, but only between lectures, as now she orates fiercely on the duty of the knowledgeable mage to safe-guard their friends, co-workers, soldiers, etc...

Walking back and forth in the well-furnished room, students and Mr. Pembrook seated comfortably along risen stone benches enchanted to feel as though filled with the pleasant warmth of the suns and stars, Miss Crenwit speaks with bold confidence, except for when she doesn't. "All those precious to you, when they're gone, they are gone, but that same flesh can be turned into a weapon by the sort to have no.. no moral standing, no trust-worthy bone in their body! In fact, th.. there seems to be a necromantic trend spreading as of late, from that ridiculous half-baked cult that sprang up over night! The Raven Queen indeed!" She dashes a bit of chalk against a board, underlining a fierce array of runes in cantrip that will preserve a corpse against rotting for a day, and maintain it's purity amidst locations of... supernatural evil. It will also cover the scent of rotting, to stop scavenging wild-life.

This is just one of the many dozens or so of useful bits of information one might hear in Practical Necromancy, which has been stripped of it's stereotypical bad men in sinister guise raising zombies and skeletons for evil ends, but rather into a sort of faux-White Healing Magic, with an emphasis on medical study. Academy mandates seem to be that Necromancy is useful, but the higher end of summoning is not worth the bite-you-in-the-ass two-fer of public opinion and managing your charges and their endless/tireless needs.

Thelesia eventually concludes her lesson and bids farewell to students, who seem to be divided between a few with actual interest and then the two halves of "have to take it for general credit" and "need an easy floater credit", both of these two groups departing in record time. The loyalists join Thelesia at her desk and everybody begins discussing the day's lesson. Miss Crenwit seems very thankful for the company, looking calm and very attentive and interested. A typical bit of magical clique... you're rather certain, Mr. Pembrook, that the following exchange literally happens:

Student: "Hey, what's your favorite spell?!"

Student: "Ohh, mine is..."

Thelesia: "I love spells that I like!"

... Well, not literally, but you've heard it all before, Mr. Pembrook. It may seem a bit lacking from mages that don't routinely see combat, but you've lived a rather comfortable life and avoided much of that yourself with your chosen profession. Speaking of which, it's time to gather today's notes for Necromantic Theory, so you'd best bring yourself into the conversation!
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Re: Mr Pembrook and the Curious Rendezvous
« Reply #1 on: June 07, 2012, 06:12:24 PM »

"I'd venture Miss Thelesia is quite fond of Gentle Repose, given that she's filled a lecture on the subject. I assume you've all taken Mr. Serlett's anatomy courses already, as that particular ritual calls more on knowledge of the body than knowledge of weaving magic."

Mr. Pembrook pushes his spectacles up the bridge of his nose.

"But as for whiz-bang fireworks, what do I know? I'm but a scholar, not a talented magus. Miss Thelesia, do you have any supplemental reading for me?"
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Re: Mr Pembrook and the Curious Rendezvous
« Reply #2 on: June 12, 2012, 05:00:46 PM »

The students leave together, seeing that the Professors are talking about work. Although not truly a professor, Mr. Pembrook does enjoy as much respect as one. Thelesia smiles sweetly at you and picks a small tome off her desk, handing it over. "Anthony(Serlett) and I tend to compare lesson plans, due to the overlap in Anatomy and White Necromancy, but I think you'll find the magical end a bit more important with the cultists setting up shop. And that little book would be..."

Magical Control and Your Body: Tending the Puppet's Strings "An improvement upon his original thesis, on the effects of strain caused to the body by compulsory effects and resisting them. There's a chapter dedicated to the effects of labor on the freshly raised, fascinating stuff..."

Looking from side to side, Thelesia notices that it's just you and her in the big, wide room. She becomes visibly nervous and looks off to the side, holding her hands up to cover the bottom half of her face as she speaks. "Ah.. Mister Pembrook? It's... awfully lonely on this side of the Dark Star(the tower building you're in). Would you walk with me for a bit?"
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Re: Mr Pembrook and the Curious Rendezvous
« Reply #3 on: June 12, 2012, 05:23:17 PM »

Mr. Pembrook has been on the giving end of enough sneak-attacks to know how harrowing it is to be the recipient. "Of course, I'd be happy to." He tucks the book and his notes into his bag and offers his elb-- well, paw, since he can reach only slightly higher than the Tiefling's waist anyway.
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Re: Mr Pembrook and the Curious Rendezvous
« Reply #4 on: June 12, 2012, 06:02:52 PM »

You enjoy a brief and pleasant walk out of the Black Tower and around it's perimeter, to circle around to the space between the three great towers of the academy and the garden that lies within it. Aside from the sudden appearance of a squirrel in the single unoccupied length of sidewalk you cross, it is an uneventful journey. Still startles Thelesia, though. She gives you a kiss on the forehead and walks off to join her waiting fiancee, a fine tiefling fellow. This leaves good Mr. Pembrook to consider today's schedule:

-White Necromancy
-Caring For Magical Beasts
-Evocation
-Medical Sciences
-Physical Education
-Abjuration

Ah, Ye Gods. It would be the day that you're expected to participate in that most heinous of activities, where-in a budding young mage is reminded that their magic is useless if they cannot call upon it while threatened by intimidating warriors, cutting arrows and natural disasters. The battle-field is no place to learn this lesson for the first time...

As Mr. Pembrook's day continues, the students come to him in between the classes to ask for copies of his masterfully kept notes, the professors come to him for comparison to their peers and to keep track of which prof is on a roll around campus and the occasional staff member crisply greet him as though he had tenure for the last 30 years. And in-between it all, he receives constant compliments, hearty cheers, grateful praise and sincere thanks. And... a cupcake here, a free ticket there, a lunch offer here, a guard letting him skip the stairs and use a teleport there...

As Professor Anthony Serlett hands off a small wrapped tin of delightfully treated spiced sausages, the Medical Sciences session comes to an end. The middle-aged half-Elven scholar still has a shock of red hair that almost covers his pointed ears, and a friendly face with a bit of pudge as years of ease begin to add up. His well-kept white lab-coat covers slacks where the belt needs a new notch each year.

Anthony: "Top-notch technique, Pembrook! The wife made a few extra and knew you'd appreciate it!"
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Re: Mr Pembrook and the Curious Rendezvous
« Reply #5 on: June 12, 2012, 06:09:03 PM »

On his walk around with Miss Thelesia, Mr. Pembrook briefly considers vanishing from sight just long enough for her to notice and start to panic before tapping her lightly on the back of the head with, oh, a thrown pebble or something. He eventually decides against it on account of the woman being a nervous wreck already.

And heinous as it is, hands-on training is generally a good mark of how skilled a budding student is above and beyond their grade-point average. That a few who don't quite have the nerves end up in hospice care for a while is just how things go sometimes.

Mr. Pembrook draws a deep sniff of the spiced sausages, his tail wagging a bit against any will to stop it. "Mr. Serlett, I believe you have just successfully moved your projects up to the top of my priority queue." Homemade sausages? Generosity like this deserves some reward, to be sure.

Thanking Mr. Serlett profusely, Mr. Pembrook excuses himself to go change into some casual clothes to attend his Physical Education consultation. He's been slacking on his personal fitness for a few days, and a brisk walkies would do him some good.
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Re: Mr Pembrook and the Curious Rendezvous
« Reply #6 on: June 13, 2012, 07:21:55 PM »

And walkies you shall have. Despite his training as a bit of a duelist and a sneak, none would assume that kindly Mr. Pembrook is interested in the intense hand-to-hand sparring sessions held in the open-access area at the bottom of the Silver Tower of the Celestial Veil. With permission to use weapons and healers standing at the ready, the Academy also teaches it's own graduates into the promising Spirit Guard, who serve as the rank and file for the magically-inclined who aren't particularly good at it. But magic to augment physical prowess is a winning combination, and a pair of students are conjuring simple mage armors as you politely excuse yourself for a trot around the grounds.

If the regular entrances are above-ground, the ramps leading down to the larger open-access basement floors dip slightly into the earth and offer convenient shaded alcoves to sit in, recessed several feet beneath the regular sidewalk. Walkies concluded, you can appreciate a bit of relaxation in the shade before another change of outfit. That is when you see... him!

The very picture of efficiency and grace, of punctuality and courteous manner. The only other Human-like intellect in this entire city that occupies your much-beloved niche as Tiny Dog Man. Where Mr. Pembrook is a Fey Corgi, Gregory is a Small Dog given Intellect. The difference is subtle... but important, damn it all! He wears a dapper little coat and a proper little hat and the horrible tendrils of envy and malice coil about you as you witness him gliding smoothly along the side-walk on his sculpted steel stallion, his adorable little riding scooter.



Very swiftly and with great familiarity, you are hatin' as he finishes rollin' up to the standard above-ground entrance of the Silver Tower, a bit out of line to see you... or perhaps the fool doesn't even acknowledge you! Gregory knocks upon the door with a special little rod he carries for just such a purpose, the two clashing materials making a pleasant sound gong out from the rod in his paw, and he barks merrily up at the staff that answers, passing off a back-pack full of parcels to them. Another happy, chipper bark is owed and paid out when Gregory receives his ten bits for the delivery, and he wheels around to start scooting off to his next stop.

That spontaneous 180 is when a flat, rectangular package comes unclipped from the scooter and lands soundlessly on the dewy grass nearby. Gregory departs without noticing it.
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Re: Mr Pembrook and the Curious Rendezvous
« Reply #7 on: June 13, 2012, 07:27:02 PM »

My my, how unprofessional. How very sloppy and careless and stupid. What do these people see in him?

Mr. Pembrook calmly walks over to the package, picking it up out of the dust and brushing it off. Who is it addressed to?

SHAKE SHAKE

Whatever could be inside?
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Re: Mr Pembrook and the Curious Rendezvous
« Reply #8 on: June 15, 2012, 12:52:36 PM »

Well, shaking it doesn't open it, but it does dislodge two items clipped to it. It also prompts me to describe the package a bit more. Flat, rectangular, a deep auburn brown, wrapped with thick cardboard paper that is tightly knit together with delicate metal cord.

The first item appears to be in a different condition than the package. It is a very old and well-worn copy of the Iythian Primer On Flora And Fauna, the covering scratched to all hell, the pages worn and yellowing and dog-eared. Only Gregory could treat a book so poorly and leave it so susceptible to a pun.

The second item is relatively clean and new and suggests it was a message originally placed with the parcel. Your innocent shaking causes it to drop, right-side up and readable. Fancy that.

"188(.5) your 249(.5)s, the 230(.33)ows watch. The 32(1) sleeps at dawn. Deliver to 167, 18, 224, 18, 220, Iythia via Holsten."

A code! Use the Monster Manual for D&D 4e, please.

Professor Layton & The Curious Village Soundtrack - Puzzle
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Re: Mr Pembrook and the Curious Rendezvous
« Reply #9 on: June 15, 2012, 01:11:19 PM »

Oh dear, a puzzle. Clearly the dogea-- rumpled Primer is the codebook, making the conversion of numbers to words a trivial matter. With a little time before his Abjuration consultation, Pembrook puts the package away and walks back to his quarters, flipping back and forth through the Primer to assemble the sentence.

"Mind your sword, the shadows watch. The Beholder sleeps at dawn. Deliver to kobold archon sahaguin archon roc, Iythia via Holsten."

Each sentence makes less sense than the one before. Clearly the first is a warning that whatever this package regards is meant to be kept secret. There is no way to discern the identity of the "Beholder" -- surely not an actual beholder, no one has even seen one since that nasty business in Bladefang territory years ago! -- but perhaps they're caught unaware at a specific time.

As for the list of monsters... there aren't any numbers indicating that only fragments of words are used. Is there a "Kobold Arch" somewhere in town? A "Sahaguin arch", on a rock somewhere?

Mr. Pembrook pours himself a whiskey, sits down in his favorite chair, puts his feet up, and lights a cigar. With his faithful mastiff Luke curled up at his side, Mr. Pembrook flips through the Primer for any additional clues. Hmm.
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Re: Mr Pembrook and the Curious Rendezvous
« Reply #10 on: June 15, 2012, 01:37:05 PM »

If there's no guide to the code, it must be intuitive enough to be remembered easily. A word puzzle, surely. Kobold Archon Sahaguin Archon Roc. KASAR?

Mr. Pembrook checks the table of contents. For each letter, Kobold, Sahaguin, and Roc are the first entry in their respective letters. But Archon is fourth -- after Aboleths, an index of Abominations, and other Angels. Perhaps the first letters of those monsters count, but the fourth letter of Archon -- KHSHR? That's not even a word, not even in Draconic, where you can go for pages and pages of written script without seeing a vowel.

He's probably overthinking this.

Hmm.

...

Aha!

There's no monster in the Primer that starts with the letter I! Iythian isn't an extra part of the directions, it's a part of the puzzle!

That makes the sentence "Deliver to Kasari via Holsten".

Kasari isn't anyone Mr. Pembrook has heard of, but of course Holsten is -- she works right here in the Academy. An instructor of... enchantment? Abjura-- no, planar theory. That's the one.

But it's time for his consultation, so Mr. Pembrook gets dressed in his usual silk clothes, adjust his spectacles, and heads back to work. He'll ask around maybe swing by Holsten's classroom later and see if she's in.

"Luke, here's my answer. Now I just need to go out and see if it's the correct one."

Luke, being a 100% normal dog, looks interested at the mention of his name but understands not a word. Which is why Mr. Pembrook keeps him around.

Maybe Kasari is someone anyone is familiar with.

Or maybe Sahaguin Arch. On a rock.
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Re: Mr Pembrook and the Curious Rendezvous
« Reply #11 on: June 18, 2012, 01:46:51 PM »

After Abjuration, you're able to sneak into Planar History 120, one of Erica Holsten's courses. Her wolf-blooded mastiff perks up as you enter the room, then lays back down and waits patiently, recognizing your scent. Erica is Ilex's younger sister, an early 20s half-elf who wears the popular "Combatant's Robe" style of mage-finery, which is an elaborate professor's robe with bits of levitating armor about the joints for an immaculate and mysterious look, like some sort of future-mage! She has curt and short straight chin-length black hair and her robe favors a bright light-blue tint. One of her hands has a jagged bracelet around it wretched in a line of glowing blue runes, strings of beads jangling from the edge. She is currently lecturing on the Elemental Planes, which is a pretty standard and well-tread point of study due to the expected competency of mages in summoning Elementals, especially with the advent of House Tousk's advanced style of "Elemental Bonding" in summoning, or... respect for those summoned. The greater results speak for themselves, of course.

Sitting through the fresh lecture on a subject so mind-numbingly familiar to you may be a bit hard, as not only is it one of your most popular requests, it is also a relatively stable course lecture series that does not change much from year to year. You may have felt a small tinge of conscience when you simply changed the Year heading on the last set of Planar History notes before making them available, but... well, things don't change quite as fast with beings who spend thousands of years immobile.

Eventually, you're able to chat with Erica and her (regular intelligence dog) companion, Butch.

Erica: "Well Hello, Mister Pembrook!" She grins really wide and reaches in without warning, giving your left ear a scritching with skilled fingers! As short as she is for a Half-Elf, she doesn't end up bending down to do so. Butch sits at attention by her side. "I thought you'd be stopping by tomorrow! Couldn't get enough about the wonders of the City of Brass, or the Gaze of Melora?!"
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Re: Mr Pembrook and the Curious Rendezvous
« Reply #12 on: June 18, 2012, 01:56:42 PM »

"Actually, I believe the messenger dropped a package addressed care of you -- assuming you're the Holsten in question. Do you know anyone by the name 'Kasari', by any chance?"
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Re: Mr Pembrook and the Curious Rendezvous
« Reply #13 on: June 18, 2012, 02:52:45 PM »

Erica perspires just a bit about the forehead, keeps grinning. "Uhm, not at all. Where's the package?"

Butch gives you a sniff.
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Re: Mr Pembrook and the Curious Rendezvous
« Reply #14 on: June 18, 2012, 03:20:55 PM »

"Right here. I took the liberty of picking it up for you. After that bumbling messenger dog dropped it I decided it was safer this way."

"I am a bit curious why it was addressed to your care in code, though -- even if the code was the sort of thing Butch could figure out."

In Canine, "Right, Butch? No problem."
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Re: Mr Pembrook and the Curious Rendezvous
« Reply #15 on: June 20, 2012, 08:22:01 AM »

She accepts the package and scrunches up her nose, giving you a coy look. "Mister Pembrook, are you accusing me of something? Besides, that delivery dog is very good at his job! He's the best!"

Butch barks once.
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Re: Mr Pembrook and the Curious Rendezvous
« Reply #16 on: June 20, 2012, 10:56:54 AM »

Ulgh. Mr. Pembrook shakes himself a little to hide the hackles rising on the back of his neck. What do these bipeds see in that fleabitten turdeater?

Mr. Pembrook looks over the rims of his spectacles, which would be a more effective gesture if he were taller than anyone else. "No need to be coy, Miss Holsten. This is a magical academy, and from the looks of things one of the requirements of tenure is to have some sort of secret project hidden away from the public. Did you know there are at least three coup d'etat being planned against the Empress at this very moment? It is a matter of professionalism that any secrets I find out are kept in utmost confidence, so there is no danger to sating my curiosity. What is so important that it be trusted to your care to deliver, and encoded?"

Mr. Pembrook attempts diplomacy
1d20 +19
7 + 19 = 26


"This wouldn't have anything to do with your sister getting spotted snooping around Academy grounds around the time of that big theft out of one of the towers, the day Miss Thelesia was attacked, would it?"

With just a touch of goading to keep Erica off-guard (Bluff)
1d20 +21
15 + 21 = 36


And focuses the white-hot laser of his attention on the delivery of her reply. (Insight)
1d20 +14
14 + 14 = 28
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Re: Mr Pembrook and the Curious Rendezvous
« Reply #17 on: June 21, 2012, 02:41:40 PM »

Erica bristles a bit at your needling. "Those are old myths! That's the sort of nonsense people talk about in the same breath as the Shadow Guard!" Your intense insight notices the two last issues of the Gateway Herald on Erica's desk. "And besides, they already suspect her for visiting the Academy at all that day, you can't scare me any more than the Guard Captain." She folds her arms and glares you down. "If that's all, Mister Pembrook..."

"I'm just worried about Ilex's debt, is all. Firebrand is a terrible, terrible man."

Hmmm. If the editorials in the Herald are to be believed, a classic Holsten reply: irritated with a hint of rude. Seems to be rather truthful, though.
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Re: Mr Pembrook and the Curious Rendezvous
« Reply #18 on: June 21, 2012, 02:51:29 PM »

"Very well, very well. Pardon me for prying. Curiosity is a hard habit to break."

Mr. Pembrook leaves the classroom. Without any further projects for the day and having already had a walk, his afternoon is free.

Well, there's more than one way to solve a mystery.

Mr. Pembrook checks Academy archives, staff rolls, and asks around some of his better-connected friends and contacts to find out who this Kasari person is.

Mr. Pembrook and the Sought Information (Streetwise)
1d20 +16
10 + 16 = 26

Maybe there's a story here (History)
1d20 +17
15 + 17 = 32
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Re: Mr Pembrook and the Curious Rendezvous
« Reply #19 on: June 21, 2012, 03:06:26 PM »

Hrmm. Kasari Hollysword was in Morgiana's class. Graduated with her some years ago. Proficient in all schools of magic, considerable talent in Evocation, Illusion and Necromancy(neutered as it is, probably a talented Healer.) One of those up and coming stars, though school records end swiftly.

Your search for a story discovers that there is, in fact, not one. By intent! Your contacts about the campus in the adjacent commercial blocks see her occasionally, she tips well and seems to always be in the company of strange, out-of-district people. Your campus contacts very rarely see her, maybe an average of once every two months stopping by on some blank-slate errand. Your most reliable and seediest contact, a Dwarf named Sergio who works in the Admissions office, seems to have mysteriously gone missing.
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